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Onward to 2021

2021 is going to be a lot like 2020 for reasons that we are all familiar with. In reading what people are saying, it sounds like we will have at least another year of this (pandemic). It is the reality that we’ll have to live with as we go into the new year. But what does this mean for the future of technology, the workforce and leadership? 

Remote Work is Here to Stay 

What we’re going to see is an impact on the future of work, more specifically how remote work will be here to stay. Nine months into the pandemic, we have all adjusted to this new way of life. With that, there are some consequences. However, what I think we’re going to see as a result of this, is a greater sensitivity to connect the entire country. (I say country because that’s really where I’m focused, but you could replace that with the world). 

In the United States,  two percent of the population creates all of our food and they’re all rural and remote. Many of these people don’t  have high speed internet. They have no real access to data in its contemporary form. They don’t have access to the world of big data. There’ll be a real push to connect the rural United States with the more metropolitan areas. And I think that will be driven in part by technologists migrating to more remote locations given  the acceptance of remote work.

Working Anywhere 

The dynamic around work is going to change. When people eventually return to work, they’re going to go back differently. I envision a world of offices that are all shared offices, big and small. And I think that creates all kinds of economic trouble in metropolitan and highly dense areas while creating opportunity in the more rural ones. This will trickle into having an impact on commercial real estate, residential real estate, wages, etc. In fact, it could make the United States more competitive in the tech scene because essentially every outpost (at least for the next 10 years) becomes the equivalent of off-shoring. 

In the Workplace

We’re also going to see a shift in leadership. I can see women dominating the boardroom. Executive positions and political appointments in the next two years. I don’t know the number, but I’ll make it up. My best bet is that 60% or more of these positions will look first to find a female leader. And I think that that’s becoming more and more of a public mandate that will happen. 

A New Way of Learning

I think college is becoming obsolete and depending on how long the pandemic lasts, people are learning to learn in new ways and are valuing learning differently.

I think we’re moving. And again, I’m not saying any of these things are good or bad. I’m just saying that I’m thinking that these things are, these things could happen. People are starting to think about education more in line. More people are thinking about education as a vocation now more than any time before. And I think that there’ll be a movement to lifetime learning and skills development versus going to school for four years (if you’re a doctor, eight years) and then you’ve learned what you learn, and then you apply it to 30 years in the work field. That model is broken, I think it’s gone and it’s served colleges very well. But what you’re going to see more and more are commercial colleges and the pressure to eliminate the non-profit status. 

Gene Sequencing

In terms of gene sequencing, genomic models are going to see a breakthrough. And it may be the kind of thing that ultimately impacts what we’re going through today or prevents it in the future. The technology is there to change the whole premise of the medical system today which is breaking down, is trying to address in a reactionary mode, medical issues. And I think that the way we’re going to eliminate that burden is by cutting those in half by doing things like gene sequencing and knowing from a very young age, what’s going to happen to you and how to prevent it. This is what will transform healthcare for all. 

Digital Currency 

Digital currency is going to become mainstream. It’s clear that the technology is getting sophisticated enough and there’s enough investment from the big credible entities that people traditionally work from there. They’re going to disseminate this technology, into my generation and beyond, probably in small bits. We’re at a point where there’s enough critical mass, that that’s something that’s going to happen. And there are enough traditional mainstream companies betting the farm on it and will have a huge impact on the security business, in data and AI.

Trusting Artificial Intelligence 

Something that I think we’ll see, is the pressure and visibility around the idea of trusted AI, meaning that people presume with all these models being built in artificial intelligence. At the end of the day, artificial intelligence and machine learning is about algorithms and mathematics which are both human by nature. Humans created them, which means that they have the same human biases, but people are confused by that today because they think, “A computer generated this answer, it’s objective.” Well that couldn’t be further from the truth because the computer applied instructions that it got from a human being and those have biases. Today, most of AI and machine learning are black boxes. In the new year, I’m suggesting a more sophisticated use of artificial intelligence where there’s going to be regulation and a demand for transparency so people can really trust it. 

 

Cheers to 2021, let’s all work together to make this a great year! 

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Chris Lynch